Friday, November 21, 2014

Loose Feathers #470

Greater Sage-Grouse / Photo by Tom Koerner (USFWS)
Birds and birding news
  • There is speculation that the reintroduction programs for California Condors and Black-footed Ferrets may have driven those endangered species' species-specific parasites to extinction.
  • Scientists investigating the genetic basis for feathers have identified 193 genes that contribute to feather development, and some of them were present in vertebrates long before birds evolved.
  • Fur seals have been recorded sexually harassing penguins and then (in some cases) eating them.
  • New York City has been the entry point for numerous introduced and invasive species, including the ubiquitous House Sparrow and European Starling.
  • Last week, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse was given threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. Whether Greater Sage-Grouse will be listed as well is still undecided.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, November 14, 2014

Loose Feathers #469

Eastern Bluebird / Photo by Bill Thompson (USFWS)
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, November 07, 2014

Loose Feathers #468

Eastern Towhee / Photo by Bill Thompson (USFWS)
Birds and birding
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, October 31, 2014

Loose Feathers #467

Greater Sage-Grouse / Photo by Tom Koerner (USFWS)
Birds and birding
  • Swainson's Warblers have been documented nesting in short-rotation pine plantations, which is not the habitat where the species is normally found but which offers a steady supply of breeding habitat.
  • Superb Fairy-wren embryos learn calls from their parents while they are still in the egg.
  • Birds struggle to reproduce successfully in noisy environments because communication is more difficult.
  • A proposed wind turbine project on the north slope of the San Bernardino Mountains has been withdrawn, in part because of the likely impact on protected raptors.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, October 24, 2014

Loose Feathers #466

Say's Phoebe / Photo by Tom Koerner (USFWS)
Birds and birding
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, October 17, 2014

Loose Feathers #465

Ruby-crowned Kinglet / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • There is some disagreement over whether the EPA's preferred solution to the Passaic River's pollution is the right approach.
  • A site in New Mexico is releasing huge amounts of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.
  • Conservation groups are suing to list the wolverine as a threatened species. The main threat to the wolverine is climate change, which will limit breeding habitat for the species.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Loose Feathers #464

Mew Gull / Photo by Kristine Sowl (USFWS)
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • In November, voters in New Jersey will decide on a ballot measure to dedicate a portion of the corporate business tax to open space acquisitions. Some environmentalists and policy wonks think this is a bad idea.
  • President Obama will declare a portion of the San Gabriel Mountains a national monument.
  • New York plans to restore habitat around many of the lakes and ponds in its city parks.
  • The marsh boardwalk trail reopened at De Korte Park for the first time since Sandy.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Loose Feathers #463

Tundra Swan at Yukon Delta NWR / USFWS
Birds and birding
  • With warmer temperatures and less sea ice in the Arctic, polar bears are forced to spend more time on land, where they are now hunting Snow Geese in greater numbers. Researchers are trying to figure out how this affects the geese and other aspects of Arctic ecosystems.
  • Studies of common birds can be beneficial for protecting rare species.
  • Plans for an Ivanpah-like solar development in California have been stopped for now because of concerns about the toll Ivanpah is taking on migratory birds. 
  • The western population of Yellow-billed Cuckoo will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. While cuckoos in the east are common, western cuckoos face threats to their breeding habitat from agriculture, changing hydrology, and climate change.
  • Steamer ducks are notoriously aggressive.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, September 26, 2014

Loose Feathers #462

Sooty Terns / USFWS Photo
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, September 19, 2014

Loose Feathers #461

Cinnamon Teal / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding
  • Monk Parakeets most likely arrived in New York City via the pet trade but have thrived in the urban outdoors.
  • A recent study found that captive Monk Parakeets usually group in pairs but also have complex interactions with other members of the larger flock.
  • One problem revealed in the State of the Birds report is that many birds of arid lands are in decline while birds that use wetlands have largely improved thanks to conservation.
  • Scientists are looking for members of the public to help document penguin behaviors by looking at images online at Penguin Watch.
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity